Countering the Broadleaf Invasion: Financial and Carbon Consequences of Removing Hardwoods during Longleaf Pine Savanna Restoration


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The once widespread Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)–dominated ecosystems of the southeastern coastal plain of the United States have been greatly reduced in extent, and many of the remaining stands are being degraded by hardwood invasion due to fire suppression. The first step toward pine savanna restoration is often hardwood removal, a costly process due to their large volumes and low market values. Despite these problems, by marketing a wide range of hard- and softwood products, the costs of 13 restoration projects in northern Florida were substantially reduced. Ten different products were sold to 19 different buyers. Fuel chips represented 71–100% of all biomass removed (8.2–81.1 Mg/ha). Although landowners were charged modest amounts for removing biomass harvested as fuel chips, other marketed products yielded revenues. Overall, four projects earned net profits of $29–$383/ha, and four projects generated sufficient revenue to pay 17–99% of the cost of hardwood removal as fuel chips. A carbon accounting of a second set of projects demonstrated that carbon harvested as fuel chips far exceeded that consumed in harvest and transport, yielding net carbon offsets of 451–1,320 Mg C/project (3.3–13.9 Mg C/ha). Using fuel consumption results of this second set of projects, carbon offsets for the 13 restoration projects were estimated as 89–1,524 Mg (3.8–37.9 Mg C/ha). Restorationists should monitor traditional forest product markets as well as developing carbon markets for price fluctuations that could provide significant revenues to restoration projects.